Successful CEOs and association presidents have a lot more in common than you may think
To be an association president who inspires and leads a board, you must approach your responsibilities with professionalism. The role shouldn't be something to be half-heartedly filled or the last item on your daily to-do list.
Being association president is an honor, and you respect that position when you lead a drama-free, united and benevolent association.
One way of maintaining professionalism is by studying successful CEOs themselves. So, what lessons can association presidents glean from how CEOs do business?
Take a look at these traits of successful CEOs and see how they can apply to association boards.
Leaders see the big picture
Getting too caught up in smaller (though necessary) everyday tasks can prevent the president in the community association structure from seeing how everything ties into the greater focus.
“If you allow yourself to just do what's next on your to-do list, you'll never find the time to think about the big picture─there will always be something that feels more urgent,” according to Fast Company. “Block off time on your calendar based on when you're most creative (morning, afternoon, evening).”
In making time to think about the big picture of your association, you'll see whether the association's goals are being achieved, how your daily to-do list ties into it, what needs to be struck off the agenda for hindering the greater good, and so forth.
They clearly communicate ideas and set goals
Knowing what drives the association should make it easier for the association president to share that information with others on the board. Unfortunately, however, association presidents often forget to share that goal and the crucial steps for achieving it.
“Most associations don't have a training or onboarding process to educate new board members on what their role is and what they are accountable for,” writes PeytonBolin founder, Jane Bolin, in her book, Mastering the Business of Your Association: No More Condo Commando. “This leads to many board members unknowingly doing things that may be contrary to statutes or their governing documents. Without proper guidance, they end up doing things ‘their own way,' which is never best for business.”
A great leader will communicate regularly and clearly, making sure new members share the association's vision as well as keeping seasoned members on task.
Diplomacy is a must, not an option
Being a human institution, an association board isn't always a joy. Disagreements will arise. Tempers will flare. Bad news will need to be delivered.
“Because of this occasional tension, one of the most important board member qualities is diplomacy,” according to Nolo. “To be a good board member, you'll need to act as a proactive team player, who uses discussion and negotiation rather than contentious confrontation.”
CEOs value feedback
Honest feedback is hard to ask for (or even really want), but great CEOs know its importance.
“Tough feedback can be a tough pill to swallow,” according to Entrepreneur. “For most people, asking for feedback is like going to the dentist: though few enjoy it, it's actually quite important to do.”
The feedback won't always be great. After all, you're not a gold coin that everyone's going to like, as the Spanish saying goes. Sometimes, you're going to rub association members the wrong way, no matter how much diplomacy you employ. Or you may have honestly lost your focus and need to get back on track.
The upside of asking for feedback, though, is that you won't have to read minds or do guesswork about what association members think of you. You'll know.
As association president, you need to focus on increasing your understanding of governing documents, procedural duties, leading meetings, maintaining attendee order, being the authority for your association…That's an impressive list already. Don't unnecessarily add to it.
Delegate regularly instead.
“Delegation shouldn't be yet another task,” suggests Harvard Business Review. “Make it part of your process for creating staff development plans. Discuss which types of projects and tasks you will pass on to them so that they can build the skills they need.”
You don't need to do it all. (And in fact, doing everything may peeve other board members who view those tasks as their responsibilities.)
CEOs ask for help when they need it
Need to recalibrate your focus? Need to mentally regroup? It's perfectly normal for an CEO to need extra help now and then, and we at PeytonBolin can provide it. Download our ebook for more about how to run your association like a business.